Woman ‘Trapped’ in Tesla For 40 Minutes With 115 Degrees Temperature During Vehicle’s Update

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Jun 08, 2024

In April 2024, a TikTok video of a woman stuck in her Tesla for 40 minutes in 115-degree heat went viral. The story certainly elicited concern that Tesla’s fully electronic system is actually quite dangerous, but now, new information has come to light.

TikToker Brianna Janel said she knew she could have manually unlocked the doors, but it would have damaged the vehicle. Now, she wants everyone to understand the ins and outs of updating a Tesla, including how to get out if you need to and what will happen to the car if you do.

Viral TikTok Video: Stuck in a Tesla

On April 9, 2024, @brianna__janel posted a TikTok video showing herself sitting in her car with the text: “POV: you got stuck in your Tesla” across the screen. Janel went on to explain to her followers how she found herself in this sticky situation.

Screenshot of a TikTok video by @brianna__janel with the text “POV: you got stuck in your Tesla”

Source: @brianna__janel/TikTok

She said that she had decided to update the system in her Tesla while waiting for her Chick-fil-A order to be ready. But even though the update said it would take 24 minutes, she sat in the car as the temperature rose for 40 minutes.

Janel Knew There Was a Manual Exit

In the video, Janel explains to her viewers that she understands she can get out via the manual door handle included in every Tesla vehicle. However, she was concerned that it would damage the car.

Screenshot of a TikTok video by @brianna__janel with the text “POV: you got stuck in your Tesla”

Source: @brianna__janel/TikTok

Therefore, she continued to wait in the 103 degree heat while the car completed its update. Janel posted the video for her few followers, and within hours, it had gone viral. Some people showed concern for the Tesla owner, but others trolled her decision to stay within the vehicle to protect the car over herself.

The Tesla Owner Posted a Follow Up TikTok Shortly After

Shortly after her video went viral, Janel posted yet another clip from inside her Tesla. After such an overwhelming response, Janel felt the need to clarify a few things about her first video.

Screenshot of a TikTok video by @brianna__janel with the text “but there’s a couple things that I do wanna clear up”

Source: @brianna__janel/TikTok

She explained that at no point during her 40 minutes in the car did she actually fear for her safety. Janel had said “I hope I don’t run out of air,” but she noted it was just a joke. Of course, if she was actually in danger, she would have immediately used the manual handle and removed herself from the situation.

Janel Has Updated Her Tesla for the Past Six Years

Additionally, she responded to several commenters who questioned her understanding of Tesla vehicles and their regular updates.

A photograph of the screen in a Tesla vehicle showing the system update

Source: @SDA Dan Cars/YouTube

Janel said she fully knows how Tesla’s updates work, as she has had her car for six years. She just decided to utilize her 30 minute wait time in the Chick-fil-A parking lot, during which time she took a work call, to update the system.

Tesla Driver Will Have Her Tesla for “Years and Years and Years”

Finally, Janel explained that she typically updates her car at 2:00 AM, and she recommends other Tesla and EV users to do the same.

Exterior view of a Tesla building

Source: Adobe Stock

At the end of her video, Janel tells millions of viewers, “I still love my Tesla. My Tesla is amazing. I will continue to have it for years and years and years.” She just won’t be updating it while sitting inside it anymore.


What Actually Happens If You Open a Tesla’s Doors During an Update?

As with most viral videos, Janel’s 40 minutes stuck in her Tesla at Chick-fil-A has become a far bigger conversation on the internet and within the electric vehicle community. The first question on many people’s minds after watching Janel’s clip is, “What would happen if you opened the door during a Tesla update?”

A photograph of the front of a Tesla vehicle surrounded by a black background

Source: Adobe Stock

According to Tesla, “Vehicle functions, including some safety systems and opening or closing the doors or windows, may be limited or disabled when installation is in progress and you could damage the vehicle.” But what does that really mean?


One Tesla User Explained What Happened When They Opened a Door During an Update

While Tesla never explicitly says what kind of “damage” could be caused to the vehicle if a person opened the door during an update, one Reddit user wrote what happened when they did exactly that.

A man opening the door of a white car from the inside and stepping out

Source: Freepik

They wrote, “[I] wasn’t thinking and opened driver door in the middle of a SW update and big surprise, window didn’t go down, just dragged along the door seal. No damage, just couldn’t close the door again.” Another user replied, “My wife broke her driver-side window during the last update.” So, it seems that’s the most likely result, for those who may need to know in the future.


The Problem Is That Many Tesla Owners Don’t Understand the Technology

Additionally, Janel’s story sheds light on others like it that didn’t end as well. For example, in 2006, a man found himself literally stuck in his new electric Cadillac XLR for 14 hours when the battery died.

A Cadillac fully-electric XLR in white

Source: Reddit

The electric door handles were not working, and unfortunately, he was not aware that there were manual handles. This showcases one of the major problems with electric vehicles which is that many users don’t fully understand the operating systems or even the safety precautions.


Tesla Has Been Working to Ensure Their Vehicles Are Safe for Everyone

Tesla has had its fair share of safety issues over the years. The majority of these problems occurred within the vehicles’ self-driving features, though there have also been a few concerns with the electronics system itself.

Businessman and billionaire, Elon Musk, speaks to an audience

Source: @Inc/YouTube

Everyone knows that Elon Musk is at the helm of the great Tesla empire, and Musk is nothing if not a dedicated businessman. He and his team have been working tirelessly to ensure Tesla vehicles are safe for all, or at least working tirelessly to fix their image in the press.


Tesla Cyber Trucks Might Be the Most Dangerous Tesla Yet

Some say that Musk’s newest creation, the Tesla Cybertruck, could be the most dangerous vehicle the company has ever made.

A photograph of a Tesla Cybertruck in a parking lot

Source: Wikipedia

Some say it’s the angular exterior that makes it so unsafe to drivers, pedestrians, and every other car on the road. But when Musk had to recall the truck due to problems with the accelerator, others started to argue that it was the  poorly-executed internal system of the vehicle that makes it so dangerous.


All Electric Vehicles Have Manual Door Handles

No matter which Tesla model, or any other electric vehicle you’re using, as Janel explained, the best possible practice is simply to never update while you are inside. However, if the battery dies or there are any problems with the electrical system, it’s crucial to remember that there is a manual door handle.

A woman in a white coat waits outside her EV while it charges

Source: Freepik

It may slightly damage the doof of your car, but that is a far better option than harming yourself. This story should be a lesson to all to go read your electric vehicle manual again, cover to cover.